Interview: Fotocrime’s Ryan Patterson Talks New Album

Fotocrime, the dark post-punk project spearheaded by Ryan Patterson (Coliseum) just released Accelerated, which is their fourth album and first for new label Artoffact Records. Accelerated is a dark and brooding tour-de-force, featuring Patterson’s trademark croon, along with nimble musicianship from guitarist Nick Thieneman and bassist Will Allard. (They use a drum machine for the beats.) They have perfected their “electronic meets organic post-punk” sound on this album. It’s pretty great.

The new album is out. They are on tour. We thought this would be the perfect time to send Patterson some questions to get the scoop on all things Accelerated and Fotocrime.

His answers follow below.


When you first conceived this project, did you ever think it would go as long as it has?

Yes, I started Fotocrime with the intention of this being the band I would do and the moniker I would use long into the future. It still feels like a very new band to me, despite having already released four albums and toured quite a lot. By late 2019 we’d been a band for a couple years and were about to release our second album, then the world caved in, as we all know. With our new album, Accelerated, this feels like our rebirth and as if the infernal machine that fuels this manic ride is firing up again on all cylinders. I’m more excited about the current moment and future of Fotocrime than I ever have been.

What kind of musical itch does Fotocrime scratch for you?

I feel complete freedom to make whatever kind of music I want to make and to explore any ideas and avenues that speak to me and excite me. While I suspect we are perceived as directly connected to certain genres, I don’t feel hemmed in by this perception because I know we are multi-faceted in our approach to songwriting and the ways we express our ideas. I consider us a post-punk band, which by my definition is a very expansive and beautiful categorization. It’s less about genre about more about the wide scope of how you approach the music and art you make.

Also, when the project first started, it was more like a solo project. What made you decide to add Nick and Will to the mix? What do they bring to Fotocrime?

One of my goals when starting Fotocrime was to see if I could write and record an album entirely myself, which I did with the first album, Principle of Pain. When I started playing live shows, Nick joined the band on guitar and has played every North American show with the band. Nick played on the songs on South of Heaven that we recorded with Steve Albini, as well as a few songs on Principle and our third album, Heart of Crime. In 2019, I did Fotocrime solo on an extensive European tour and some shows in the States and Mexico. But, once the pandemic happened I realize how much I cherished being in a band with my friends and invited Nick to return to Fotocrime in a full-time capacity. Like Nick, Will and I have been close for years and have done many musical projects together. Will was even originally going to be in Fotocrime when I was first starting the band and he practiced with me a few times when I was writing the first album. It was great to finally have him become a full member of Fotocrime as well. Both Will and Nick are fantastic musicians, songwriters, singers, and all-around wonderful people and friends. They bring their considerable talents as players and also great perspectives with making arrangement suggestions, contributing ideas, and making everything with Fotocrime better and more fun.

Do you ever think you’ll add a live drummer to the band?

Let’s consult Suicide, Godflesh, the Sisters, Cocteau Twins, Big Black, et al.

What were you aiming for musically on Accelerated? Do you think you achieved it?

With Accelerated we wanted to write an album that was a bit more immediate than its predecessor, more danceable, and with more hooks. We still experimented a lot but with memorable and urgent songs as the ultimate focus. Vocally, I embraced my natural register more than ever and found the results to be very rewarding; I think Accelerated has my best vocal performances throughout. We dip our toes into Italo Disco, Krautrock, soft-edged pop, darkened ballads, and other ideas that are either new or recurring for us, all while retaining our own voice and distinct sound throughout. I think Accelerated is the most assured and cohesive record we’ve made, it’s the most purely Fotocrime record.

As far as the lyrics go, what were your inspirations for this album? Also, do you find yourself going back to certain lyrical themes that you explored in the past?

There are themes of yearning, love, loss, and redemption. I touch on the regret and grief I still feel after a close family member died of a drug overdose, the ache for the comfort of love, and the existential weight of the finite nature of life. There are also lyrical narratives tackling concepts of class warfare, dreams of escaping into space and buried secrets from the folly of youth. I find myself drawn to existential dread when writing and finding ways to combine love songs with allegorical ideas about darker personal and global subjects.

What is next for Fotocrime?

Catch us on tour, we’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the shows and playing these songs for you.

Buy Accelerated here.

Photo courtesy of Amber Thieneman.

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